- The City of Albuquerque, NM has launched partial service of its Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART), an electric bus rapid transit line that is currently taking riders to and from the Albuquerque BioPark's River of Lights on Friday and Saturday nights, according to Albuquerque Journal.
- Outgoing Mayor Richard Berry took the first ride on the bus along with other officials and citizens last Saturday. He told the Journal it was "a very pleasurable ride ... very smooth and quiet."
- Construction of the $126 million project — which will connect 10 miles of the city via fully-electric buses and stations located in the middle of the road — has caused a lot of controversy over the last year. Businesses claim the construction has been obtrusive and some opponents say the project is too costly, however proponents have said the ART will help boost the local economy.
While Albuquerque is not the first city to introduce an electric BRT route, it is the first U.S. BRT system to receive the Gold Standard for Bus Rapid Transit from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The award considered the city's infrastructure and access to the BRT route when awarding ART.
The initiative, however, isn't without flaws. It was reported that an accident has already occurred involving ART, however the bus was not at-fault. Despite that, City Councilor Isaac Benton introduced legislation this week to increase safety and welfare of riders. The legislation would ban folks from loitering at ART bus stations, ban smoking at the bus stations, and would charge a steep fine to riders who try to skip out in paying the fare.
The ART team also launched a new app for the service, ABQRide+, which will offer riders trip planning, an online ticket purchasing system, and integrated service options. With the launch of the app, the city will not only increase awareness of the new mobility service, but will also increase interest by improving user experience and maintaining a focus on convenience and technology.
The success of ART is still yet to be determined, however it's off to a strong start. While Albuquerque has many modes of city transportation, the city also still promotes carpooling — something it will likely move away from as it continues to increase efficient, environmentally-friendly mobility options. New Mexico currently ranks 17th in energy-efficient states and it is possible that, through the influence of ART, the state will adopt a stronger focus on EVs and energy-efficient infrastructure.